A small brewery in the United States is hoping to make a big impact on ocean pollution and conservation. The beer makers are developing biodegradable, edible packaging in an eco-friendly twist to protect marine life. Ben Gruber reports.
STORY: It's summer time and the beaches are filling up with people enjoying the waves, the sun and in many cases, a beer. Chris Gove wants people to protect marine life while drinking beer. It was that desire that led Gove and a partner ad agency to come up with the idea for edible, biodegradable beer rings. Gove owns Saltwater Brewery, a small craft beer company in South Florida. Instead of shipping off the barley and wheat used to brew beer to ranches for cattle feed, the company has come up with a method to mold the spent grains into what basically amounts to fish food. The plastic rings used to package the world's most popular alcoholic beverage is a menace to marine life. Birds, sea turtles, as well as other sea creatures get tangled up in the rings or mistake it as food. More than 1 million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals die from plastic pollution every year. Edible packaging and utensils aren't new, but applying the concept to beer packaging is. Since releasing a video showcasing the rings earlier this month, the idea has been getting a lot of attention, enough to actually start making a difference. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRIS GOVE, CO-FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, SALTWATER BREWERY, SAYING: "I have over 150 different breweries including the large guys wanting to get onboard right away. So it's there. It's a matter of figuring out the scaling side and making it a reality." Gove and his team are now in the process of applying for patents and developing a way to scale the process up. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRIS GOVE, CO-FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, SALTWATER BREWERY, SAYING: "We have run the numbers and it looks very cost effective, especially on the scaling side since the breweries have already invested in it. So getting the product there is no raw material cost it's just already there. So it becomes quickly a lot less expensive to run." Even at a slightly higher cost point, Gove believes people will pay the difference. With summer soon in full swing, Gove is going to brew a lot of beer, content in the knowledge that its packaging could feed a turtle, as opposed to harming it.